Joel Belz, in the current issue of World magazine, compiles a list of “big problems facing our society”—a list, perhaps, not unlike one you and I might compile:
When I asked a group of friends a few days ago what issues came first to their minds in terms of the big problems facing our society, the answers were not surprising. International terrorism; the war in Iraq; the scourge of abortion; the definition and disintegration of the family; genocide in Sudan; the monopoly of secularist, statist education; a dismaying electoral process in the United States—it didn't take this alert group long to assemble a list of nearly 20 gloomy things to think about.
Interestingly, Belz found the list lacking in at least one major issue of concern:
To all that darkness, I added still one other possible cause for dismay: drought in the United States. And I suggested that just one more year of shortfall in the usual rain patterns in big regions of the country might well lead to social disruptions of a kind that would eclipse our concern for the list we first assembled.
My guess is drought wasn’t on your list of gloomy things to think about, either.
Let’s be clear: we’re not talking about a potential drought, but a very real and present drought in highly populated areas of the United States. The governor of Georgia recently declared a state of emergency in 85 of the state’s 159 counties “where rainfall the last few years has been about half of what is normal.” The state of Georgia has now mandated a 10 percent reduction in water use by force of law with fines levied for non-compliance. And according to Belz, there have been “hints that the National Guard might have to be called out to enforce the conservation measures”—an indication of just how serious this drought has become.
The University of Nebraska at Lincoln monitors the severity of the drought in the country at their U.S. Drought Monitor website. The image map is alarming.
We humans can drill deeper for oil and gas, and we can build higher kilowatt electrical generators, and we can print money to bluff our way through an economic crisis. We can even, when desperation sets in, send a surge of soldiers to Iraq. But no one has figured out a way yet to hook a fleet of 747s to a bank of rain clouds, tow them to Georgia, Arizona, or southern California's wildfires, and flip a switch to make those clouds drop their rain.